United Poultry Concerns
Contact: Karen Davis 757-678-7875
For Immediate Release
September 27, 1999


MACHIPONGO, VA - While six million caged hens sit starving in their ammonia-reeking, Salmonella-infested sheds, the U.S. egg industry is touting a new "conceptual framework" to deal with Salmonella in eggs, and the federal government is proposing to standardize egg production and put warning labels on egg cartons.

Meanwhile, a leading cause of Salmonella enteritidis in hens, eggs, and consumers of eggs is being ignored by an industry that has known about this cause for years and done nothing about it: FORCED MOLTING.

FORCED MOLTING is the totally unhealthful economic practice of depriving hens of ALL FOOD for as long as FOURTEEN DAYS STRAIGHT (an average length of Ten Full Days). This cruel practice is so stressful it breaks down the hens' immune systems, causing them to be invaded by harmful Salmonella bacteria. According to Egg Industry, June 1999: "Reduced feed and water intake is the most detrimental and universal aspect of disease" in laying hens. The University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service stated in a 1994 report, "The stress resulting from an induced [i.e. a forced] molt significantly depresses the cellular immune response in laying hens and will increase the severity of a concurrent intestinal SE [Salmonella Enteritidis] infection."

World Poultry, vol 12, no. 6 (1996) states that "While unmolted hens usually have to ingest about 50,000 Salmonella cells to become infected, molted hens need fewer than ten."

USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service wrote to United Poultry Concerns on August 21, 1998: "FSIS recognizes that public health concerns are raised by highly stressful forced molting practices. For example, extended starvation and water deprivation practices lead to increased shedding of Salmonella enteritidis (Se) by laying hens subjected to these practices."

In 1998, United Poultry Concerns filed a petition--Docket No. 98P-0203/CP--with the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit forced molting based on the clear evidence that this inhumane practice is a major cause of Salmonella-infested hens and eggs. "Any policy designed to protect public health will have to include banning the practice of starving the birds," states UPC president Karen Davis. "It's time for our government to take action."

United Poultry Concerns. September 27, 1999

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150

(The Egg Industry Must Stop Starving Hens)